Credit: Freepik

Three Przewalski’s Horses Flown From Prague to Kazakhstan

Three of the originally planned four Przewalski’s horses departed from the military airport in Prague’s Kbely district to Kazakhstan at around 2.30pm yesterday, Miroslav Bobek, the director of the Prague Zoo, told journalists at the airport.

Prague Zoo is overseeing the return of the horses to the wild. According to Bobek, one of them was restless in the transport box, so it stayed in Prague. Four more horses were due to be sent from Berlin by the local zoo, but the plane experienced a malfunction, and the transport was postponed for 48 hours.

Przewalski’s horse disappeared from the wild at the end of the 1960s, but there has since been a steadily growing population in captivity, which allowed the reintroduction of the species first to China and then to Mongolia. Prague Zoo has participated in this, with nine transports of Przewalski’s horses to western Mongolia between 2011 and 2019.

The aim of the project in Kazakhstan is to restore the population of wild horses there as well. In the next five years, Prague Zoo wants to transport around 40 horses to the Altyn Dala steppe area.

“We loaded three Przewalski’s horses, two mares and one stallion, into a CASA aircraft,” Bobek said. “We planned to transport four, but one of the stallions started to sit down in the transport box, so we decided not to transport him, it would have been a risk for him.” 

The horse has to stand while being transported to get blood flow to its legs, he explained. “They could basically die during such a long transport, so these horses have to stand,” he said.

Bobek said a similar transport could take place every year. The zoo selects the specific animals to be moved to the wild based on several parameters, such as age, sex and temperament. The horses will come not only from the Prague Zoo, but also from other European zoos. The zoo is preparing a similar project for the Valley of Monasteries in eastern Mongolia.

Prague Zoo has been breeding Przewalski’s horses since 1932 and has kept an international stud book since 1959. Over 230 foals have been born at the zoo and its breeding and acclimatisation station in Dolni Dobrejov. There are about 850 Przewalski’s horses in the European breeding programme, and another 300 or so outside these programmes.

Brno Daily Subscribe
Sign up for morning news in your mail